Cider Corner: Tips For Growing and Maintaining Your Workforce

If you’re looking to expand your reach and grow your brand, keeping your staff engaged, on track and happy to keep working for you is key.

Andrew Perez, chief operating officer for Highpoint Cider, said his company was building out its sales staff and places great importance on sales professionals’ role in the company. He said it was important for them to buy into the company’s values and make certain they’re aligned.

As an owner or manager, you’ve got to ensure your messaging is clear to them when they’re hired, he added.

“Ultimately, they are more so the face of the company than anyone else in the organization,” Perez noted. “Per the values conversation, if they don’t agree, or aren’t living those values, there has been a mismatch in expectations and communication.”

Building the culture you want is one of the first steps to growing and keeping a great staff, Perez said. As with most things in life, communication is key.

“We want to innovate and strive to become industry leaders across all areas of the business,” he noted. “Building a culture of value based decision making and aligning folks to those values, and how decisions are made, is a great place to start.

“Above that, [prioritize] clear and transparent communication so that folks can know what is coming, and perform better at their job.”

Michael Robb, owner and CEO of Clarksburg Cider Company, told Brewer Magazine that building a proactive, engaged sales team he can trust helps his company combat the challenge of getting lost in distributors’ contact lists.

“It’s all about relationships,” Robb said. “I trust our sales team to go out and build relationships with the distributors and customers. We try hard to stay in front of the distributor’s sales team with incentives, new products, and events when we can.”

Robb said turnover had been an issue in the taproom, but he chalked that up to being typical of the restaurant industry. Efforts to keep employees on the production side have been successful, he said.

“We try and offer fair and competitive wages, the best benefits we can afford, generous paid time off and other perks, but most importantly, we treat our team like we want to be treated,” he said. 

Highpoint’s approach is similar, with the company doing what it can to offer benefits to the best of its ability despite the fact that it’s still relatively new.

“We have offered health insurance since Day Zero to our employees and are expanding that offering to [both] full-time and part-time employees,” Perez said. “We have only been at this for about 20 months at this point, so the team we have on board recognizes that this is still very much a startup environment, and that there is a give and take with the compensation and how we continue to roll out additional benefits to the team such as ski days, PTO, vacation, and paternity/maternity [leave].”

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